Saturday, June 07, 2008

Non Dare Call it Journalism

The New York Times has a new article on the Vast ID Conspiracy. The article, titled, "Opponents of Evolution are Adopting a New Strategy," attempts to expose the creationist plot to take over American schools.

The Times article documents the efforts of opponents of Intelligent Design in Texas, one of the states where academic freedom bills that call for balance in the teaching of evolution are seeing legislative success. One of these groups, of course, is the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), always vigilant in its efforts to stamp out the dangerous cultural virus of academic freedom before it spreads.

“Very often over the last 10 years, we’ve seen antievolution policies in sheep’s clothing,” said Glenn Branch, part of the NCSE pack, taking great care to bleat his remarks convincingly. Groups like NCSE are concerned about Texas because of the sway the state has over the textbook industry. Texas, like California, is a big market for publishers. They are worried that if objectivity in textbooks takes hold in Texas, it could spread to the rest of the nation.

So far, the full extent of this plan has been known only to a few, but the intrepid staff of the New York Times is now beginning to unravel the plot. Times reporter Laura Beil, using valuable time that could have been spent doing further investigation into the dangers of fluoride in the city's water, has carefully researched the Protocols of the Elders of ID and is hot on the scent of the meaning of its secret code:
Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

... “‘Strengths and weaknesses’ are regular words that have now been drafted into the rhetorical arsenal of creationists,” said Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that promotes religious freedom.
What the reporter didn't notice is that the letters of this expression--"strengths and weaknesses"--when rearranged using the Decoder Ring issued to every card-carrying member of the Discovery Institute, spells, Death gets new sneakers (more or less).

You'll have to admit, it's clever.

I will probably get in trouble for revealing it, but when an ID advocate thinks someone else might be a creationist agent, he simply says, "Strengths." And if the other person, looking to the right and left to make sure no one can hear, says, "and weaknesses," at the same time giving the secret handshake, he knows he has identified his creationist contact, and can pass along any secret messages from headquarters.

I'm sure there are some who would say that it may be time for the ID movement to fess up to its nefarious plan to clandestinely impose creationism on the nation--sort of like what the liberals did years ago in taking over major newspapers like the Times. But why should they blow their cover when the conspiracy is having so much success?

For example, the movement gained gained valuable exposure with the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." As part of a plan hatched by ID leaders at secret creationist meetings (which, unfortunately, have to be squeezed in between meetings of the Illuminati, since they share a conference room), the movie put Darwinists in the position of having to oppose academic freedom.

Then, in an equally crafty move, the Council on ID Relations quietly launched its effort to undermine science instruction in schools by requiring that it be balanced. The Darwinists, unaware of the plans that had been put into motion, played right into creationist hands by ceding expressions like "strengths and weaknesses" to the enemy. Outside of Darwinist circles, after all, most people actually think objectivity is a good thing.

Whether the Times will discover the full scope of the threat is uncertain. No one at the Times has yet noticed, for example, that if you play the movie's interview with Richard Dawkins backward, you can hear Ben Stein saying, "Bill Dembski is dead"--or that there is a missing 18 1/2 minutes of interview footage.

And when will the Mulders and Scullies at the Times realize that Philip Johnson's Darwin on Trial was not written by Philip Johnson, but by another man with the same name?

Obviously the Times has more work to do, yet it may be well on its way to a Pulitzer for blowing the lid off this conspiracy. Yes, there are creationists under the bed, and the Times seems well on its way to discovering them.


Anonymous said...

I must admit, the irony embedded in this essay, placed as it is on a blog that is having a melt-down about an out-of-context reference to black drag queens, is most amusing.

Don't you stop and think about the things you comment on, Martin? Or is this an accurate picture of the "logic" you espouse in the books one sees listed on the blog?

(Big hint - Martin, you are guilty of exactly the offense to reason that you are accusing ID critics of.)

Martin Cothran said...


Are you saying there is something illogical about what I said? If so, please feel free to point it out.

And maybe you could explain what you mean by a "meltdown". I was actually sort of enjoying the experience.

Anonymous said...

What is the "Wedge Document"?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

I guess I'm saying "do as I say, not as I do" isn't exactly a sensible stance to be taking, nor is it an example of proper logical discourse. And this is the message you convey here on your blog.

On the one hand, you castigate ID critics for conflating ID with creationism; allegedly, this shows a lack of familiarity with and appreciation of ID theory. On the other hand, elsewhere on your blog, you commit the exact offense that ID critics are accused of, when you reduce Story's work to an out-of-context phrase.

Have you ever contacted Story and asked for a few minutes to learn about what she really does, Martin? Or does your journalism consist solely of completely uninformed commentary?

Like I said, do you stop and think about what you post here?

Martin Cothran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Martin said: “Their identification of ID with creationism is a conscious falsehood they employ for propaganda purposes.”

This is an interesting claim in light of the testimony at the Dover Trial, which revealed that early drafts of the ID textbook Of Pandas and People used the term “creationism” until 1987 when a US Supreme Court decision ruled against teaching creationism, after this, drafts of Pandas used the term “Intelligent Design”. In one draft the transitional form between “creationists” and “design proponents” was discovered – the phrase “cdesign proponentsists.”

Martin Cothran said...


Tell me logically how you get from the assertion that early drafts of Of Pandas and People included the term creationism that therefore all belief in Intelligent Design is creationism. It looks to me like your missing a few logical steps here.

Martin Cothran said...


That's a fair enough criticism to make, but let me point out several things. I don't think the problem with those who assert that ID is the same thing as creationism are lacking for information. Their problem is not going to be solved by going out and researching creationism. Their identification of ID with creationism is a conscious falsehood they employ for propaganda purposes.

Your argument seems to be that I am criticizing something I don't understand, and that that is somehow analagous to what ID critics do when they identify ID with creationism.

The whole issue is that there is a uniform pattern of support for political correctness at a public university which claims to be diverse at a time when tuitions are rising, indicating that the university doesn't have its priorities straight.

How is that analogous to people who simply misrepresent Intelligent Design?

Anonymous said...

Martin said: "Tell me logically how you get from the assertion that early drafts of Of Pandas and People included the term creationism that therefore all belief in Intelligent Design is creationism. It looks to me like your missing a few logical steps here."

Pandas and People is the book that was supplied (bought by a ID promoting school board member's church and donated to Dover High School) to teach ID. It was the book being promoted by ID creationists for use in teaching ID in the public schools in many places. The history of this book and the sudden change from the use of the term "creationism" to the use of "intelligent design" after 1987 when the SCOTUS ruled creationism could not be taught has everything to do with how and why the term "intelligent design" was coined. You can deny this all you want, but Judge Jones was not fooled.

Anonymous said...

BTW: the entire transcript of the Dover Trial can be found here:

The testimony of Dr. Forest on day 6, when she discusses the wedge document and the various drafts of Pandas and People, is most interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

I guess what I"m suggesting is that the references to drag queens that we are seeing here are at least (at least!) as mis-representative of the work of Story as the claims of ID critics.

Again, I think that, if you were to actually read a few things by Story (I have found at least one paper on-line), you would find that the subject is more involved and interesting than Edmunds insinuates in what was a lazy and uninformed effort.